Reading about the lives of the great Victorian Plant Hunters like Kingdom Ward, Reginald Farrer and Chinese Wilson brought home to me how important it is to engage young minds with the joy of being outdoors, of observing wildlife and of course engaging with plants and gardens.
So, I was delighted when this press release from the RHS hit my inbox today.
What a wonderful campaign, by a wonderful organisation…
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening has launched its annual search for the most talented and inspiring school gardeners in the fourth RHS School Gardeners of the Year competition.
Schools across the UK are invited to nominate their gardening stars for three coveted awards – RHS Young School Gardener of the Year, RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year and RHS School Gardening Team of the Year. Shortlisted nominees will then be required to make a short video demonstrating their love of gardening which will be watched by an experienced judging panel headed up by ITV’s Love Your Garden presenter, Frances Tophill.
This year’s top prize for the winning RHS School Gardening Team of the Year is a fantastic greenhouse worth £2,644, kindly donated by Keder Greenhouses. Additional prizes for all three categories include £500 in gardening vouchers, tools, gardening gloves, tickets to an RHS Flower Show and fantastic opportunities such as the chance to work alongside RHS gardeners for a day or a visit from Frances to help out in their school garden.
In 2014 the search for a young gardening talent between the ages of 5 and 16 was won by George Hassall, nine years old, from Buckton Vale Primary School in Carrbrook, in Tameside, Greater Manchester. George wowed judges with his infectious enthusiasm and impressive knowledge of gardening, and has since been a guest speaker at a horticultural careers conference, and made debut TV and radio appearances on BBC’s The One Show and BBC Radio Manchester.
RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year was introduced last year to find dedicated teachers and school volunteers who are helping to teach young people valuable skills in the garden. The search found an incredible calibre of talent, and the award was given to Noreen Daw, Higher Level Teaching Assistant at Imberhorne School in East Grinstead, West Sussex for her incredible passion and commitment.
RHS School Gardening Team of the Year, also a new award last year, was won by a 39-strong Eco Club from Ysgol Esgob Morgan in St Asaph, Denbighshire for their unwavering teamwork and enthusiasm.
Frances Tophill said: “Last year we saw an incredible range of talented young people and teachers. It’s fantastic to see that all over the UK, young people are able to take their learning outdoors and hone not only horticultural skills, but very valuable life skills.”
Sarah Cathcart, Head of Education & Learning at the RHS said: “This competition is a great way of raising the profile of school gardening and encouraging young people to delve into the world of horticulture – there is a wealth of careers out there suited to a range of skills and backgrounds.”
To enter the competition, schools should head to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website at rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening.
All 20 finalists’ videos from 2014 can be viewed on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening’s YouTube page at youtube.com/RHSSchoolGardening